Adding A Dash Of The Unexpected In Your Home

Not long after Don and I moved into the cottage, we went to a local auction. We saw this:

A wonderfully vintage and battered display rack for, of all things, chains. Both of us are drawn to things with interesting graphics and a touch of the industrial.

This large piece had graphics, all right. We looked at each other and bid on it. Why? Who knows. No one else was bidding on it with any degree of enthusiasm. We had no idea what the heck we would do with it.  It was one of those moments where we threw caution to the winds. We got it for $20.

Immediately, my mind started whirring. What could we do with it? We had to do something.

I call my decorating style Christmas in Connecticut for a reason. I like vintage, eclectic, overstuffed and cozy, just like the furnishings in all those wonderful old 1940s-era movies. But, to be perfectly accurate, it is Christmas in Connecticut – with a dash of funky. 

I like surprises in my home. The unexpected. I want visitors to think they’ve figured it all out and then discover something totally offbeat.

I had an idea. I trotted off to the store, bought a length of wooden dowel. I measured. I cut. Couldn’t have been simpler, really.

Then I added these:

And we had our funky paper towel holder.

Here it is in the kitchen. Now, I understand it is not everyone’s cup of tea. But we like it a lot. And we use it all the time.

These two photos show it in the context of the whole kitchen. I love the contrast between the cream colored table, the wooden chairs, the white of the hutch, red shades, doily swag lamp and the metal/industrial look of the paper towel holder.

It’s a surprise. A cozy cottage kitchen with a sudden dash of hard-edged/metal/industrial. And, I don’t know about you, but I love a happy surprise. I like to be kept on my toes.

Have you added a dash of the unexpected in your home?

Happy Tuesday.

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  1. says

    Claudia you never cease to amaze me! I love it! I too love the unexpected, the funky, vintage and industrial look. It looks fantastic in your kitchen! BTW…..your kitchen is one of my very favorites in blog land! You are one chic, funky cool lady!!

  2. says

    That is so funky it’s beautiful, and practical, and fits in your very pretty kitchen like it was meant to be. I love how it picks up the other small green touches in your kitchen. Brilliant!

  3. says

    Very cool and clever– and you know it’s about the same cost as a tacky, new towel holder! My whole house is a bit unexpected as I like many styles, have inherited old knick knacks, and can do my own framing (there’s dangerous knowledge!). People are struck by the number of pictures I have hanging. Hate blank walls! And a big thank you for spelling “a lot” correctly! I see it as one word so often I want to scream!

  4. says

    This shows off your artsy side I think. It’s wonderful that you and Don think the same about things like that, and what a fun piece to see every morning (:

  5. Nola says

    Love your funky paper towel holder! It’s so unique and such a great color! My kitten Pepper would kill for it; she loves to unroll paper towels (and toilet paper); that triple holder would keep her busy.
    Also just wanted you to know that I’m googling to see if there is a 12 step program for Nisse addiction. If I find one, I’ll forward the info to you!
    And, it’s FINALLY flannel pj weather here! Woohoo!

  6. says

    Great use for it! I love the unexpected for sure. One of the things I like about your home is that it isn’t boring! I love a place where there are always new and interesting things for the eye to see! hugs, Linda

  7. Tana says

    I love it! I always have two rolls of paper towels going. One with only full sheets and the other with half sheets. Two of the half sheets is larger than the full sheets, so I need the two rolls. Wonderful idea!

  8. Judy Clark says

    How ingenious!! Love the look of it in your kitchen. So much better than those new bright chrome things.


  9. says

    I love it too. If it were mine I would have to add ribbon, string and jute bolts to it since I am constantly using them in the kitchen. 😀 I have many other areas to wrap etc but I always seem to end up in the kitchen, especially now with cookie gifts to wrap…

  10. says

    I love this display as a paper towel holder. I remember seeing it before– and just thought of it the other day when wiping out one of my kitchen drawers. I have a drawer that I keep , plastic wrap, wax paper and freezer paper in; something like this would be wonderful to hold those items.
    It looks pretty in your kitchen. I like a little funky industrial. I just made a shelf in the mud room out of old tool box drawers!! It has just the right funKIness along with red and turquoise!

    …enjoyed seeing it again! Pat

  11. says

    I think it’s adorable and could also hold toilet paper in the bathroom if you wanted. Come visit and see the new great granddaughter, sweetpea. Juliette is quite adorable!

  12. Charlotte MacDiarmid says

    Now, Claudia, to turn a chain holder into a paper towel holder is just plain clever. I’m sure it’s a conversation piece in your home.. If only I had a kitchen big enough to hold something like that.. I can’t think of anything in my home that is such a piece of useful art.
    I hope you’re having a warm and cozy day.
    Hugs, Charlotte

  13. Donnamae says

    That’s just a cool piece…and and you’ve given it new purpose! Love that! I don’t think I have anything funky…that’s why I come here for inspiration…I need some funk!! 😉

  14. says

    I love it, Claudia, and I love how well you know your style, yourself. I’m still fumbling around, combining all my likes into something that is far from cohesive! lol! The shots of your kitchen are wonderful…it’s so cozy!


    • Claudia says

      It’s taken me a long time to find my style, Jane. I used to be susceptible to so many influences. I guess getting older means you finally know who you are (style-wise).

  15. says

    I love it!! I love your “Christmas in Connecticut” vibe, and the unexpectedness of your towel holder is wonderful. I guess my whole house is kinda unexpected, every single thing in it is second-hand, and I love looking at things not as what they were intended to be, but what I can turn them into it. But, I don’t think I would have thought to turn that piece into a paper towel holder—you did, and that is what sets you apart! Great idea, great project, and I seriously LOVE your kitchen!!

  16. says

    That is a really cool idea and I like it alot. You could add pot hooks to the top towel bar and hang small pots or coffee cups from there. So cute and a steal for $ 20.00.

  17. Deb says

    Love love love it! And seeing gorgeous photos of your cozy cottage always gives me the warm fuzzies and is pure eye candy for me! And you know, my eye needs all the candy it can get! 😉

  18. Terri says

    The first thing I thought of when I saw the chain rack was extra towel storage for an old fashioned bathroom. Its simplicity gives it the potential for a lot of uses!

  19. says

    I love unexpected and funky – and would’ve never dreamed of using that as a paper towel holder. Love it! At first when I saw the dowels across it, I thought you were going to use it as a quilt rack. :-)

  20. says

    I love that piece of furniture! I’m not sure I personally would have used it for a paper towel holder, but I still love it! I really like your whole kitchen area! Very cool. =] I don’t think I’ve added anything funky to my home – YET. We are in the process of upgrading and painting and all that. Right now the dining room and living room are a burnt orange color, which I absolutely love because we are “rustic-y country” style people and it fits perfectly. It does make it kind of hard to decorate though. I feel like I need to stay away from reds (which is sad because I love red) because I don’t want the red and orange to clash…. I think what I am going to do is paint the dining room a neutral color and keep the living room the warm, burnt orange color. That will be down the road a way though…

  21. Nancy says

    Oh, I can see that “rack” holding vintage hand embroidered tea towels, hand towels, etc., complete with crochet lace on the edges. I have some I inherited and some from antique shops that I purchased years ago. It’s a great piece!

  22. says

    Love this piece of history and how you are using it in your pretty, cozy kitchen Claudia.

    Of course I’ve a ton of quirky, unexpected stuff around the cottage too – comes with loving the French brocante and being in the antiquing/thrifting business for a while! Visitors question items such as the collection of soup tureens, my beautiful Santo with crown and wings (well the wings come out of storage for the Hlolidays so I better get moving on that!), the very old, very stained and chippy china platters, vintage alarm clocks no longer waking anyone – they just look so darned cute, and I could go on and on. If I could just stay home more all would get dusted and shined up – not happening these days though and I feel so guilty!!!! I am not decorating this year – I’ll miss that – because we’ll be in England.

    Hope all’s well there dear, especially with Ms. Scout.
    Hugs – Mary

  23. says

    I love that paper towel holder, Claudia. And I’m with you — It’s fun to add surprises to the landscape of our homes, or find unexpected uses for items we find. It looks wonderful in your kitchen!

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